Tuesday, June 21, 2011

10 Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe This Summer

It's that time of year again...the time when child deaths start making the news nearly every single evening. The sad part is that most of these deaths, while technically "accidents", were totally preventable. Here's some things to keep in mind:

  1. Never leave your child unattended in the car. Sadly on the news this evening, a child was "forgotten" in the back seat of the car and a few hours later when someone finally remembered the child, it was too late. It can take only minutes--not hours--for a child to die in a car even when temperatures are in the low 70s.

  2. Always watch your kids around water. People remember this around swimming pools, but open water (rivers, lakes, ponds, the ocean) presents even more hazards than the family pool (colder water, faster moving water, the possibility of rip tides, etc). Teens especially seem to be at much higher risk from drowning in open water, so they should always swim with someone who will pay attention to their safety (not a bunch of other teens who are only concerned with themselves).

  3. Apparently the fastest way to get from point A to point B in the deep south is in the back of a pick up truck. Although this was quite common when I was a kid, times have changed and children and teens (and adults too!) should be riding inside the truck, attached to the seat by a safety belt. Kind of takes the fun out of a hot summer night but then again it can save you from a traumatic brain injury which is even less fun than riding inside a truck instead of in the bed.

  4. Speaking of cars, everyone who rides in a car should be belted in and/or belted into an appropriate child safety seat. Another thing I noticed in the South was a relatively high number of people who didn't wear seatbelts. I guess it may be a regional thing as it is very rare in Seattle to see people who aren't wearing a seatbelt but as the saying goes, seatbelts save lives. 'Nuff said.

  5. And for a last word on cars...people also tend to get struck by cars on a regular basis, especially when the weather warms up. This is even more of a hazard at areas around parks, playgrounds, swimming areas, and other places frequented by people in the summer. Kids, teens, and even adults should always cross at crosswalks/traffic lights if at all possible, even if it is a couple of hundred yards out of the way.

  6. Know your environment, and the corollary, know whichever environment you may happen to be in, especially if you are on vacation or in an unfamiliar area. Most people are pretty familiar with their own environment; they know where the vicious dogs are, where the poisonous snakes are likely to be found, and what that weird formation of clouds in the sky means. However, when people are on vacation, they may not know what a tsunami siren sounds like, what a rip tide is, how to avoid rattlesnakes, and what to do if a tornado is coming your way. Be sure to Google up some information before you head out on your next trip to keep yourself and your family safe.

  7. For most of the southern US, it's hot. If you are one of the poor souls who gets to work outside all day in near 100 degree heat (or you just happen to be on vacation from a colder climate and want to spend every day soaking up the sun) knowing how to prevent heatstroke is a good thing. Be sure to drink plenty of fluids, stay out of the sun during the heat of the day, know where to go to cool off, use sunscreen or cover up with loose, cool clothing, and beware the signs of impending heat stroke. Children, the elderly, and the ill are most at risk for heat-related illnesses.

  8. Creating a kid-safe environment takes a lot of work but it is well worth it. I don't know how most of the people my age lived to adulthood. "Kid proofing" homes was an unheard of term decades ago and kids were regularly around firearms, axes for cutting firewood, open wells, silos, dogs that ran loose, and many other things that are considered terribly dangerous these days. But like I said above, times have changed and these days it is a given that parents will look for dangers and preemptively mitigate these dangers for the safety of their children. While there isn't enough room here to list every possible predicament a child could find themselves in, among the things to watch out for are: neighbor's dogs who are "always" friendly, child predators, unsecured firearms, poisons that small children could access, prescription meds that older teens could access, etc.

  9. Boredom can be dangerous to your teen's health. It's not if a bored teen will get into trouble but when. When our kids were teens, the goal was to keep them as busy as possible--sports, activities, even working at our businesses if they had nothing else to do. This greatly cut down on the possibility of other activities that teens do when they are bored and unsupervised such as sex, drugs, or posting jackass-style stunts on YouTube.

  10. Drunk driving is as much a danger for teens partying at the lake with friends as it is for small children riding in their parent's car after the parents have been partying at the lake with friends. Drunk driving injuries and deaths do no have to happen. Whether you are setting the rules for your teens or setting the rules for yourself, there is never a reason to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.


  1. Comment on #8 : We have a large Amish community in our area, and we now see many injuries that my more than 70 yr old Mother remembers from when she was a child. Runaway horses/buggies, child drowns in watering trough, crushing injuries with farm implements/livestock. Many children did die in the "good old days" we can just save so many more of them with modern medicine.

  2. Very true. The "good old days" weren't actually that good, especially for traumatic injuries.